Ways to Manage Ramp-Up and Ramp-Down in a Project!

by Glenn Maxwell

Have you struggled to fulfill multiple project resource requirements simultaneously or scrambled to accommodate rolled-off resources to suitable opportunities to avoid bench?

Indeed, it’s an arduous task. In a multi-project scenario, managers often face these challenges for several reasons. One, they receive resource requests in a staggered manner. Two, they often fail to stay forewarned of projects approaching the initiation or closure stage. As a result, staying abreast of the roll-ons and roll-offs of resources becomes difficult.

Thus, failing to stay on top of all the projects’ and resources’ schedules leads to unmanaged ramp-up and ramp-down, which directly affects the organization’s bottom line.

Therefore, resource managers must create effective strategies to manage frequently changing resource demands and accomplish optimal fill rates.

This blog elaborates on the repercussions of unmanaged ramp-up and ramp-down activities and how to tackle them effectively with a few proven strategies.

But before that, let’s first understand.

  1. What are resource ramp-up and ramp-down?

Resource ramp-up is a sudden increase in resource demands which generally occurs during the project’s execution stage when additional resources are required to complete different tasks. The resource manager looks for suitably skilled resources and allocates them to the project to fulfill the demand requests.

For instance, an IT project may need multiple resources with varied skills in its development phase, leading to a resource ramp-up.

Resource ramp-down happens when a large number of resources are released from a project once it has passed through its “execution” phase and attains “control” or “closure”. As only limited resources are required to handle operational activities during ramp-down, the project manager rolls off other resources in a phased manner.

For instance, after the final delivery of an IT project, its “maintenance” phase begins. This phase may need only a few developers to add new functionalities or testers to fix bugs. The project manager, thus, can release other resources, causing resource ramp-down.

Given the basics of ramp-up and ramp-down activities, let’s understand their impact on the project delivery.

  1. How sudden ramp-up and ramp-down of resources can affect an organization?

Despite ramp-up and ramp-down being inherent to every project, they can have a negative influence on the organizational efficiency and resource health index if not managed well.

For one, the absence of visibility into projects and resources’ schedules can cause a failure to identify the projects approaching ramp-down. Resultantly, resources released from various projects hit the bench, causing an increase in bench size and affecting the bottom line.

For two, as these benched resources don’t have enough work to utilize their skills effectively, it lowers their morale and productivity. In the long run, they lose a sense of purpose and belonging and start looking for better opportunities outside, which causes unplanned attrition.

Third, failing to fulfill the resource requests across multiple projects during ramp-ups before the due date leads to billing loss, delays in timelines, sub-optimal deliverable quality, budget overruns, etc. This also results in a loss of marketing opportunities and a gradual decline in the company’s revenue.

Given the impact of sudden resource ramp-up and ramp-down activities, the following section explains how advanced resource management software can help manage them.

  1. Ways resource management software can help balance ramp-up and ramp-down

One should be adept at managing ramp-up and ramp-down activities across multiple projects to ensure successful project execution. SAVIOM’s resource management solution provides advanced forecasting and scheduling capabilities, business intelligence reports, etc., that enable managers to tackle these activities efficiently.

Here’s how.

3.1 Provides 360-degree visibility into resources and projects’ schedules

A resource management solution provides enterprise-wide visibility into resources, their allocations or schedules, and other related attributes, including skills, competency levels, location, experience, etc. So, while carrying out fulfillment activities, resource managers can get a unified view of upcoming project demands. It helps them take proactive resourcing measures to fill those vacancies and handle the ramp-up effectively.

Similarly, resource managers can also foresee which resources will be released from projects by looking at their current and future bookings and schedules. Accordingly, they can find suitable projects and book the resources in advance. This will assist in reducing the resources’ bench time between two projects, ensuring an effectively managed ramp-down.

3.2 Ensures seamless alignment between sales and delivery

A company should ensure to involve the delivery team at the early stage of the sales process. For this, the sales team must coordinate with the delivery team once a sales opportunity approaches a certain probability of closure. This coordination can make it easy to determine the project’s feasibility and accept or reject it accordingly.

In case the project is viable, the resource manager can initiate the right resourcing measures to fulfill upcoming demands in advance. With full visibility into the resource pool, they can easily identify the best-fit resources or hire them as appropriate. It not only helps ensure on-time fulfillment of resource requests but also avoids last-minute firefighting arising due to inefficient ramp-up management.

3.3 Actively sell excess capacity to manage ramp-down

At times, it becomes difficult for the resource manager to find suitable vacancies for all the resources getting released. The reasons for it can be a shortage of projects within the organization, skill mismatches, etc. Therefore, adopting robust resource management software gives insights into resources’ schedules and can help foresee the ramp-down activities across different projects.

Accordingly, the resource manager can determine the resources they can’t deploy within the organization and sell their excess capacity to other partner firms or vendors. This way, it helps them manage ramp down and generate revenue while keeping such resources profitably utilized.

3.4 Look for multiple channels during ramp-ups

By providing clear visibility into pipeline projects, a resource management tool can help the resource manager understand future skill demands. They can then assess their existing workforce to analyze the capacity-vs-demand gaps ahead of the curve. That way, they can initiate the right resourcing measures proactively to avoid the last-minute hassle.

If there are partial skill matches, the manager can implement upskilling, cross-skilling, and training to fill the existing gaps. However, in case of complete skill mismatches where resources don’t possess the requisite skills at all, hiring a permanent/contingent workforce as appropriate can help. Additionally, the manager can also implement the out rotation-backfill strategy. In this, they can out rotate the resources from projects approaching the closure or maintenance phase and provide suitable backfills. This way, they can manage the ramp-up efficiently.

3.5 Allows data-driven decision-making with real-time BI

A robust resource management tool generates various insightful reports using business intelligence in real-time. A project vacancy report shows the future resource demands by reflecting all the resource requests sent by different project managers across an enterprise. This report gives a complete idea of upcoming ramp-ups, allowing enough lead time for the resource manager to handle them properly.

Additionally, the people-on-the-bench report gives details of the resources that will be released from their current engagements after a specific date. It helps monitor the bench size and initiate training and upskilling to prepare benched resources. This will enable them to take on future projects and align their competencies to vacancies. It, in turn, helps avoid an unwanted increase in bench size, arising from an unmanaged ramp-down.

  1. Conclusion

A sudden fluctuation in resource demands in a multi-project scenario is inevitable. However, the onus is on managers to combat them efficiently and keep the current and future projects staffed with required resources.

For that, handling both ramp-up and ramp-down effectively is essential. By applying soft skills and implementing a resource management solution, you can streamline resource planning and overcome the challenges posed by ramp-up and ramp-down activities.

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